Inside Advanced Scale Challenges|Friday, October 19, 2018
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Cumulus Networks Riding Shift to Open Nets 

(Supphachai Salaeman/Shutterstock)

Open networking specialist Cumulus Networks closed its latest funding round this week as it seeks to capitalize on the market shift to agile datacenter operations.

The company, Mountain View, Calif., said it raised $43 million in new funding in a round led by Telstra Ventures, the investment arm of the Australian telecommunications and technology provider. The latest funding round announced Tuesday (Jan. 23) brings the startup's venture total to $129 million.

Cumulus Networks said it would use the funds to expand operations in the emerging markets such as the Asia Pacific and the Middle East. It reported a tripling of business in the Asian Pacific region during 2017 along with strong growth in the Middle East. Those regions are overhauling outdated telecommunications and other infrastructure, fueling the trend away from proprietary networking equipment.

Along with pitching open web-scale networks, Cumulus Networks CEO Josh Leslie said the company is zeroing in on "service providers who are beginning to move into the networking space."

The company's flagship Linux-based platform is designed to "unlock vertical network stacks" that also give customers the option of using standard hardware components. Cumulus Networks claims its approach would enable its customers to build and operate networks that could be scaled to equal those of large datacenter operators.

"Open networking is key to growing service provider capabilities," added Mark Sherman, managing director of Telstra Ventures, the venture arm of Telstra Corp., (ASX: TLS) of Melbourne, Australia.

Previous investors in Cumulus Networks include Andreessen Horowitz, Battery Ventures and Sequoia Capital.

Cumulus Networks last year rolled out a steady stream of new switching hardware and open networking software, including networking appliances that target web-scale networking adopters. Among them was an appliance offering 1G through 100G platforms pre-packaged with Linux OS features and accompanying gear.

The latest funding round also highlights the growing momentum of open networking efforts such as the Open Compute Project designed to encourage networking vendors to offer standard platforms that work with a variety of network operating systems.

While established players like Arista Networks (NYSE: ANET) and Cisco Systems (NASDAQ: CSCO) continue to lead the datacenter networking sector, a batch of new players is emerging. Along with Cumulus Networks, market watcher Gartner (NYSE: IT) identified VMware (NYSE: VMW), Dell EMC and Big Switch Networks as "visionaries" in its annual survey of networking providers.

Gartner said the datacenter market is being driven by replacement of obsolete datacenter switches as data volumes soar. It also cited network infrastructure expansion to support new applications and services such as the Internet of Things along with efforts to boost the agility and scale of existing network infrastructure.

"This market is being impacted as some organizations desire to shrink their on-site infrastructure, by moving variable portions of their workloads to colocation facilities or public cloud, "Gartner said. "What is driving change in datacenter infrastructures is the need for improved operational agility, a key requirement as clients go through the digital transformation of their businesses."

 

About the author: George Leopold

George Leopold has written about science and technology for more than 30 years, focusing on electronics and aerospace technology. He previously served as executive editor of Electronic Engineering Times. Leopold is the author of "Calculated Risk: The Supersonic Life and Times of Gus Grissom" (Purdue University Press, 2016).

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